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Monday, January 30, 2023

NI’s Former Top Civil Servant Warns Of ‘danger’ Retained EU Law Bill Poses To Our Environment

The man who once led the civil service in Northern Ireland warned that the remaining EU law bills posed a “real and present danger” to our environment.

REUL is known to have its final reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

But David Sterling is not alone in his concerns about the legislation, which could undermine what he said are “the safeguards and protections we take for granted in our daily lives”.

read more: Climate activists fear Stormont won’t deliver on climate bill

If it is not abandoned, wildlife and environmental charities say it will have far-reaching and alarming consequences for Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.

They warn it could usher in an era of increased water and air pollution and weaken nature conservation and chemicals regulation, as it would see Westminster ditch the EU Water Framework Directive, national discharge cap regulations and habitat regulations.

Dubbed an “economic and environmental wrecking ball” by Wildlife and Countryside Link, new figures suggest the cost of reduced conservation could reach £82bn over the next 30 years.

David Sterling shared his views on Twitter, saying: “This bill poses a real and present threat to our environment and the many safeguards and protections we take for granted in our daily lives.”

As well as having serious implications for environmental protection in England, the Wildlife Trust said the bill would also have significant implications for environmental law and legal certainty in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Jennifer Fulton, chief executive of Ulster Wildlife, said: “Despite Northern Ireland having no government, this bill would make the task non-existent. Stormon Ministers assessed more than 500 pieces of legislation covering issues ranging from the environment and food safety to workers’ rights and public health.

“Westminster has so far given no advice on how this will be done in Northern Ireland.

“The Bill creates a serious risk that our environmental protections will be removed by default and will have implications for the Northern Ireland Agreement.”

The Scottish government strongly opposed the bill, calling it a “deregulation race to the bottom”, while the Welsh government called it a “power grab”.

Wildlife Trust chief executive Craig Bennett said: “Everything about this appalling, anti-democratic and unconstitutional bill is false.

“It is seeking to give ministers the power to scrap or amend existing UK legislation as they please, but this should be the job of Parliament and Parliament alone.

“As it stands, by the end of this year, more than 1,000 pieces of environmental legislation and regulations will cease to exist, at enormous cost to the environment and our economy, and in the process to businesses, landowners and farmers. To unspeakable chaos.”

Hugh Knowles, co-executive director of Friends of the Earth, said: “Instead of wasting government money on this bill, which wastes valuable time and resources, the government should invest in measures that actually improve people’s lives and support the restoration of our environment. “

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